Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill insisted he has 'not ruled anything out' regarding the future of experienced defender Mark Delaney - including the possibility of a new short-term deal.
The long-serving Delaney, who is out of contract in the summer, has undergone knee surgery in the United States with renowned specialist Dr Richard Steadman and admits he will be sidelined for four to six months.
The Wales international, who returns to England today, has expressed concern over his Villa future but O'Neill has an open mind.
He said: 'I will not rule Mark out at Villa. I will wait for Mark to get back from America, will see what the prognosis is and see how things are.
'I have absolutely no intention now of ruling anything out at all. Is there the potential for a new deal? There are all sorts of options open to us, absolutely.'
Former mill worker Delaney, who has spent eight years at Villa, has had his ligament tightened in the hope of curing the problem which has sidelined for the first half of the campaign.
O'Neill said: 'Mark had about three alternatives. One was to go in and have a look at the knee, one was to have an operation and one was to know he was on borrowed time.
'The advice he was given was to go in and have a look and I think they were pleasantly surprised at the condition of the posterior ligament which they thought was holding everything together.
'The knee was loose - simple as that. Whatever happens he will be out for a few months. But this operation will give him a chance to get back and play.'